MOVIE: Ultimate Champion, starring Stephan Bonnar, Daniel Bernhardt, Leila Arcieri, Marieh Delfino, Ted Fox, and George Saunders.
THE STORY: Light-heavyweight champ (and Iraq war hero) Troy Jennings (Bonnar) gets a surprise visit from old flame Jenny (Delfino), who has a problem: Her gambling debts have made her the property of billionaire bad boy Lucien Gallows (Bernhardt). To free her, Jennings agrees to fight in Gallows’s underground cage tournament at his Heaven’s Gate mansion. Along the way, Jennings falls for another Gallows girl, Kaya (Arcieri), who tries to help him and Jenny escape. But Gallows sets his thugs—including fighters Gilbert Melendez, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, and Oleg Taktarov—on the hunt. With the help of old Army buddies Mick (Saunders) and Clu (Fox), Jennings has a chance at survival, but not before one final showdown with Gallows himself.
BEST FIGHT: Hard decision here, as all the fights show Bonnar’s prowess with Muay Thai, BJJ, and tae kwon do. I especially enjoyed the movie’s intro, with its scenes of Bonnar growing up: smiling as he nurses a broken leg, then a broken arm, jumping off a roof while doing backyard wrestling, Golden Gloves champ, BJJ tournaments, posing with Carlson Gracie Sr., and winning the Ironheart Crown light-heavyweight championship.
BEST LINE: Gallows, obviously impressed by Jennings’ accomplishments in the war, runs down all of his medals, to which Jennings replies, “Nice Google search, buddy.” Gotta love “The American Psycho.”
FUNNIEST SCENE: When Melendez falls victim to dim mak (death touch) in the cage, Jennings comes to his aid, administering CPR, including mouth-to-mouth. A revived Melendez says, “Why you kissing me? Man, I ain’t like that,” to which Jennings replies, “You’re too damn sexy.”
MOVIE: Never Surrender, starring Hector Echavarria, Patrick Kilpatrick, Silvia Koys, Georges St. Pierre, Heath Herring, Quinton Jackson, BJ Penn, and Anderson Silva.
THE STORY: Former karate and kickboxing champion Hector Echavarria wrote, directed, and starred in this classic dude-entersunderground- tournament send-up. God love Echavarria, who plays MMA fi ghter Diego Carter, for his dedication to MMA and for giving fi ghters the chance to get some screen time, but homeboy delivers his lines as like he’s dropping a deuce. That said, Rampage and Herring stand out as guys who show some acting chops, and Carter makes up for his lack of the same with some great sex scenes. For those of us who like nipples—and who really doesn’t?—Kilpatrick (“The Sandman” in Van Damme’s Death Warrant) plays Carter’s adversary and Koys plays Carter’s love interest, in her break-out role as Sandra.
BEST FIGHT: A chin-strapped St. Pierre, who plays one of Carter’s friends, visits him at a Las Vegas mansion. When a thug tries to stop him, St. Pierre unleashes the “riddum,” using a Muay Thai clinch, spinning back kick, and fl ying scissor heel hook into an omaplata.
BEST LINE: Rampage to Carter: “Hey, man, what’chu doin’ here? I thought the gay club was down the street.”
FUNNIEST SCENE: Rampage, again. He head-butts some loser and then exclaims, “Man, I love this place!” Pure gold.
MOVIE: Cyborg Soldier, starring Rich Franklin and Tiffani Thiessen.
THE STORY: Although nicknamed “Ace” for his resemblance to funnyman Jim Carrey’s character in the Ace Ventura movies, Franklin takes the serious route for his debut role. Franklin is Isaac (Intuitive Synthetic Autonomous Assault Commando), a man who escapes from a top-secret scientifi c facility and crosses paths with bored, small-town cop Lindsey Reardon (Thiessen). The two are soon on the run from the mad scientist (Bruce Greenwood) who created Isaac, and who of course wants him back so he can (you guessed it!) rule the world …or something like that. Franklin seems to flip-fl op between the more automated Terminator-like way of talking and the more humanoid Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner) delivery.
BEST FIGHT: Franklin, while escaping, dishes out some Muay Thai, judo, and ground-n-pound on a bunch of guards.
BEST LINE: “If your dispatcher’s been killed, that would explain why he didn’t take your radio call. It’s only logical,” Isaac says to Lindsey. Huh?!?
FUNNIEST SCENE: Isaac and Lindsey are eating at a diner. Isaac removes the top of a giant sugar shaker and pours about a pound of sugar into his mouth. He then looks at the waitress and says, “I’d like page two, Delores.”
MOVIE: The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, starring Randy Couture, Michael Copon, Karen David, and Natalie Becker in a Mummy pre-prequel.
THE STORY: In The Scorpion King, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson chronicled Mathayus’s rise to power, so in Rise of a Warrior, we go back further and see the Akkadian warrior (now portrayed by Copon) grow up and become a man. Standing in his way is Sargon (Couture), a vicious and mysterious tyrant. Determined to avenge his father’s death, which he suspects Sargon caused, Mathayus sets off on a quest with gal pal Layla (“Ya got me on my knees!” … sorry, had to do it), played by David, to gain the powerful sword of Damocles, a weapon he needs to slay Sargon. Along the way, they encounter a Minotaur (no, not Big Nog or Lil Nog), and Layla gets into a catfi ght with the goddess Astarte (Becker), during which they call each other things like “Slut!” and “Slag!” Awesome.
BEST FIGHT: Sargon, while sparring with some dude, delivers kicks, knees, and an arm bar (Randy with the sub!), all the while dishing out the trash talk: “You call yourself a fi ghter? Get up! You better show me some skills! Is that all you’ve got? You’re nothing.”
BEST LINE: In this movie, I couldn’t decide. Mathayus joins forces with a band of Illyrians, who at one point pelt the Minotaur with rocks while yelling things like, “Ugly old slab of beef!” and “Your mother was a cow!” When they descend into some hellish dimension, one of them says, “I think I just stepped in someone.”
FUNNIEST SCENE: Gotta go back to the Minotaur. Clearly, it’s a guy in a rubber suit. Go to the gag reel on the DVD and, for a second, you see the poor guy stumbling around. The head piece must’ve weighed at least 50 pounds. Whoa, Nelly!